SUNNYSIDE — A daughter’s concern for her mother’s health, who works on the processing line at Johnson Foods, Inc., was encouraged to come forward last week to speak about the four recent COVID-19 confirmed cases which she describes as scary and not safe enough for all workers.

“There’s always an immense fear of retaliation there,” she said speaking on condition of anonymity that her mom would lose her job.

She disclosed that there were two positive COVID‑19 cases back at the end of March and all the employees were notified that work was about to be completed and if they chose not to return, the company said they were fine with their decision and understood.

Employees worked for one more day and the plant shut down because there was no more work to do. “It wasn’t because they were trying to sanitize the facilities or anything like that.”

Upon returning to work, Johnson Foods began to implement some new safety procedures as quickly as possible like wearing masks, accessing handwashing stations, getting their temperature checked and signing a daily paper acknowledging they are there of their own free will and if they don’t feel safe they can leave, she reported.

However, they are not able to socially distance themselves on the packing line or when they’re packed in together while attempting to clock out. Another area of concern is that when employees go on break to use the restroom, it’s also overcrowded as her mother indicated.

“What is most concerning to me is that there have been four confirmed cases in one week and the two newer ones, who knows how long they have been working there without any symptoms,” the daughter conveyed.

“At the end of the day, companies need to do the best they can to protect their employees and I don’t feel like this company has really ever done that, but especially now, that the risk is so high.”

Johnson Foods was contacted on Monday, May 11, for comments and questions about this story but did not respond by press deadline.

Patrick Shelby can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 110 or email

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